An Australian independent lower house MP will be introducing a bill to Parliament next month to ban the sale of “loot boxes” towards minors.
First reported by the Daily Telegraph (paywalled) on Sunday, the bill will be introduced by Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie. While the full text of the proposed legislation hasn’t been provided yet, Mr Wilkie said his bill would block loot boxes being targeted to minors through the classification guidelines.
“We as a country accept that people over the age of 18 can gamble but let’s make that for adults and giving parents a warning,” the independent MP told the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Wilkie argued that video games using loot box mechanics were grooming young children “for future gambling” and that any game featuring loot boxes should be tagged with a R18+ rating. The changes would also add a new notification, so games featuring loot boxes would receive an advisory as part of its classification rating. Some advisories listed on games today, for instance, include strong science fiction themes, coarse language, online interactivity, interactive drug use, and more.
“It’s not clear if that’s what game companies design but it’s self-evident that they have that effect,” he said. “To allow very young children to pay cash for a randomised event that may or may not reward them that would meet any definition of gambling.”
The Classification Amendment (Loot Boxes) Bill will be put before the lower house in mid-August. I’ve contacted Andrew Wilkie’s office to get a better understanding of the text of the bill, and for Wilkie’s thoughts as to why the bill is being introduced now. I’ve also reached out to the head of the Parliamentary Friends of Video Games committee to understand how much bipartisan Wilkie’s bill might have, and whether it’s likely to gain passage through the House of Representatives once its introduced.